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John Brennan defends CIA after torture report in rare press conference

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WASHINGTON —  CIA Director John Brennan defended Thursday his agency, in the wake of the release of an explosive report outlining Bush era interrogation techniques, saying those techniques were useful to finding Osama bin Laden.

“It is our considered view that the detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided information that was useful and was used in the ultimate operation to go against Bin Laden,” Brennan said at a press conference at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Brennan opened his remarks with a vivid depiction of the events of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and described the atmosphere going into fighting terrorism and collecting intelligence in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

“There were no easy answers, and whatever your views are on [enhanced interrogation techniques], our nation and in particular this agency did a lot of things right during this difficult time to keep this country strong and secured,” Brennan said at a rare press conference at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Brennan praised those who worked with him but he added the agency was “unprepared to conduct a detention and interrogation program, and our officers inadequately developed and monitored its initial activities.”

Brennan said of the report itself, “Many aspects of their conclusions are sound and consistent with our own prior findings.”

“Over the years, internal agency reviews, including numerous investigations by our office of the inspector general, found fault in the CIA’s running of the program,” Brennan said.

Brennan also fielded questions from the press, many of whom were getting their first chance to ask the CIA director questions live, on-the-record and on camera.

“I think there’s been more than enough transparency that’s happened over the last couple days. I think it’s over the top,” Brennan said in response to a question regarding whether more information would be released.

Meanwhile, one of Brennan’s sharpest critics, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the committee behind the report, live-tweeted along with the press conference and sharply rebutted several points throughout his press conference.

Related Stories:

Former CIA chief slams torture report response

Senate report: CIA misled public on torture

Marines on alert ahead of release of Senate torture report

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